A couple of months ago, we decided to plant milkweed in our garden to help save the monarch butterfly — now an endangered species, due to climate change and pesticides.
For a while, nothing happened. Or so we thought.
We would see the occasional monarch butterfly flutter by, but they never seemed to land on our patch of milkweed.
Then we noticed leaves either being half eaten, or completely whittled down to the nub on the milkweed stalks.
We couldn’t figure it out: no egg larvae could be seen, though in truth, they are the size of pinheads, which explains that.
Then suddenly we noticed a caterpillar crawling up our lanai screen.
Sure enough, it was a monarch caterpillar.
Thinking him lost, I took him back to the milkweed, where I discovered many others happily munching away on the leaves.
My guess is that the one on the screen was simply trying to find a place to turn into a cocoon.
Looks like we’re set to have monarchs around all summer, but will have to cut the milkweed down to the ground in September, when we leave for Portugal, so they don’t winter in Florida — which is bad for them, according to this article.
Here are três pics I took of a monarch butterfly who decided to hang around our milkweed patch for a while. Notice I’ve left these colorful invertebrates our late cat’s bowl, filled with fresh water and a handful of mulch, so they can rest and slake themselves to their heart’s content. To further lure them, I will looking this weekend to add yarrow, lilacs, phlox, buddleia, goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, zinnias, coneflowers, and asters, should any of these plants be available at a local nursery.
I will miss this butterfly garden while in Portugal, but if we ever buy a house there, I hope I will have more yard space to work with, as I did twenty years ago, when we lived on an acre of land that I cleared myself in southern Connecticut.